Life. Love. Family. Our Perfect Imperfection. Living life as a Catholic, homeschooling family with three amazing, unique boys, a too-oft serious, frustrated and anxious but also loving momma, and a fun-loving, hardworking dad.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Month of Ethan - July TBT #5 AND (a slightly late) birthday post all rolled in to one!

12 years. That's how old our boy turned on Tuesday. TWELVE! I know that's not super-old or anything, but when it's your first-born reaching that milestone, it can feel like it. The years have flown by. We are so proud of you, Ethan!!

July 29th, 2002. Ethan's delivery was a little difficult. My labor had slowed somewhat, and I was put on pitocin to speed it up. My ob's office had 2 different doctors, and of course the one on duty that night, for most of my labor, was horrible :( She THREATENED me with a c-section if I didn't hurry up and push that baby out. Not that a c-section is a bad thing, it was just the way she treated me and said it to me. I was 21 and having my first child with no family around besides my poor tired husband! Thankfully, not long after that there was a shift change and the other OB came in. She was much kinder and respectful. We were concerned because Ethan's heart rate was dropping, but, she told me, not enough to do a c-section. Once he was born, we quickly realized why. His umbilical cord had wrapped around his neck twice cutting off the circulation some. He was fine though, and didn't need any interventions. Apgar scores were great and he was crying loudly.
Me, 7 months pregnant with Ethan, and Jason's Grandma (my baby shower)

My sweet boy and I. Just a few minutes old.

He was born on a Monday. Ethan and I stayed in the hospital until Wednesday, and I'm genuinely glad we did. It was discovered early Wednesday that he had a heart murmur. Many times it is an innocent murmur. In E's case, he has Ventricular Septal Defect, a hole in the septum of the ventricle of his heart. It was small, but there. Over the years, he has seen a cardiologist many times to monitor it. At first, he had a lot of trouble gaining weight, eventually (after we had a hard time breastfeeding and he was put on formula) being fed higher calorie formula. He has been very lucky in that he has never needed surgery or medication for his heart condition, and the hole has been slowly closing all this time. He still has a murmur and the hole is currently still there, but he only goes to the cardiologist every 2-3 years now. (Ethan does NOT like getting echocardiograms done :( )

Mommy, Daddy and Ethan (around 3 weeks old)

Summer 2003

Cake and ice cream, 2nd birthday, 2004

Ethan and Grandma O, National Zoo, Washington, DC, May 2005

Ethan and his 5th grade teacher, Mrs. L, Halloween 2011

Alex and Ethan, after his first spelling bee win, Feb 2012

Ethan with Jackson, April 2012

Being silly before his middle school dance, 2012

Age 3

Ethan and his first friend Jocelyn, about 18mo-2y

Ethan and Jocey, they were about a year old

Ethan and daddy (top 2: around 4 or 5 months, bottom: about 2)

Over the years, Ethan has had his fair share of struggles and triumphs. At around 18 months, he was diagnosed with communication delays, and we suspected Autism. He received in home services from then, until we moved from Maryland to Ohio. Around 3 he finally started to speak, and promptly started reading!! In Ohio he started preschool for a couple of months, with special services, and went on to half-day kindergarten that fall. During that time he was diagnosed with PDD-NOS, and was given his first IEP.

We moved to a different house, and unfortunately he had to switch schools. Full day kindergarten, many phone calls home, and difficulty with bullies made for a tough 5 months. After finding out more than a month into the switch that they "didn't know about his IEP", I was furious for him. It was most definitely given to them, by myself and the old school. They did "find" it though. The next few years of school were all over the place for little E. We tried a Catholic school for first grade, but he was essentially kicked out due to lack of services available (I get it, but they did know prior to him starting about his diagnosis and said it was ok. I didn't appreciate the teacher saying he was "RUDE" because he would throw tantrums and yell "at" her or correct her. In all honesty, it was part of his Autism, and while not okay to disrespect others, we were still trying to figure out how to help him respond appropriately. Yelling at him, or sending him out of the classroom constantly was not helping... but I digress) We decided to send him to a special school for kids on the spectrum, and he excelled. In fact, they were the first to realize - besides us, of course - that he was brilliant and bored with the classwork. They moved him to second grade in November, and by January he was being "mainstreamed" into the typical classroom, with an aide. It was around this time, we took him to a psychologist and got the new diagnosis of Asperger's, which is still on the spectrum like PDD-NOS, and possibly ADHD. After given the choice to try medication (risperdal) and doing some research, we declined.

Over the summer, we moved yet again, to Michigan where daddy works. For third grade, E started at a charter school, and while that year was a tough one, he made a lot of progress. Since then E has done amazing, not only in school, but socially he's taken so many steps in the right direction, in part thanks to the amazing teachers he had in 4th-7th grade. He won the school and charter school spelling bees two years in a row, making it to the regional bee for the Scripps' National Spelling Bee and although he didn't make it to the end, he did well and managed his emotions also.

In the past year, E has made some amazing strides. Back in September, we went to a neurologist and after some discussion, with Ethan's approval, we decided on some medication to help with his anxiety. Not only has it helped with that, it has helped his focus. This year, he met 1 of his IEP goals by June (his runs Oct-Oct) and made a lot of progress on all of the others. He only had social/behavioral goals this year, which is different from the previous ones.

Ethan is an amazing, caring big brother. His empathy for others is quite astounding. He wants to make sure you are happy, and will sacrifice his own happiness to do what his brothers want many times. Ethan is kind, funny and so smart. Be careful telling him things, because if you are incorrect and he knows it, he will not hesitate to correct you! His favorite subjects are Math, History, and Science. He has mentioned wanting to become a teacher or an actor! Some of his favorite things to do are draw comics, play minecraft and other video games, and read books. He's especially loving James Patterson's middle school books right now.

I have loved watching him grow up to become this wonderful young man he is now. It's not always easy for him, but he tries so hard to be positive and he's learning to express himself when he's having a hard time or needs something specific. Whether it's a hug or time alone. In the coming year, E plans to try a couple of new activities. The dr tested his cholesterol yesterday, after it being slightly elevated last year, and found it to still be elevated. He eats pretty well, but doesn't get much exercise. While he is most definitely not overweight (4'9" and 82.6lbs), he needs to move more. After some discussion, Ethan has decided he would like to try Karate, and possibly yoga, as well as more swim lessons. I'm going to do my best to encourage him and help him. Not just for the cholesterol, but because I think emotionally the more he moves the better off he will be. Plus it will be just plain fun and he can meet some new people!

Mom and Dad love you, buddy. Keep up the good work, and just think, in one year, you will be a teenager! Time flies, so enjoy being a kid this year!

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